Lois Frankel Backs Sean Casten’s ‘Stop Sexual Harassment in K-12 Act’

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., is backing a proposal to stop sexual harassment in K-12 schools which, her office insisted, will “address sexual harassment and assault occurring in our nation’s K-12 schools by creating clear standards and related funding streams for schools to uphold their students’ Title IX rights.”

Last week, U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., introduced the “Stop Sexual Harassment in K-12 Act” with Frankel and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., the chairs of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, as cosponsors.

“As our nation has reckoned with the pervasiveness of sexual assault and harassment on college campuses, our K-12 schools have largely been left behind,” said Casten on Thursday. “Countless K-12 students have experienced sexual violence, but our schools simply don’t have the resources and guidance to solve this immense problem. It’s my hope that the Stop Sexual Harassment in K-12 Act serves as the first, critical step to upholding K-12 students’ Title IX rights.”

“Schools should be a place for every student to chase their dreams, free from sexual misconduct. This bill will ensure K-12 schools protect students from sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other forms of sex discrimination, as well as ensure equal access to education,” Frankel said.

“It is of the utmost importance…we protect children from sexual harassment in schools and ensure that these learning spaces are safe havens that allow children the opportunity to focus on their education and their futures. Reports estimate that nearly 50 percent of all students will have experienced some sexual harassment between grades 7-12. Our goal with this legislation is to protect all K-12 students from all forms or sexual harassment and ensure they have access to and awareness of their rights,” Lawrence said.

The bill “defines the role and responsibilities of a Title IX coordinator in a K-12 school; sets constraints on how many FTE Title IX coordinators a school district needs in the role given the size of their student body; prevents people with conflicts of interest (e.g.: the principal) from serving in this position; encourages schools to allow confidential reporting of sexual assault, so students are not deterred from seeking help; provides training to students and teachers about what to do if they see or experience Title IX violations; creates a national climate survey so we can get better data about where and how often harassment and assault are occurring; ensures these trainings, surveys, and processes are age-appropriate for each grade level; provides funding to schools to help them meet these standards.”

The National Education Association, the National Women’s Law Center, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Girls Inc, End Rape on Campus, and the American Association of University Women have backed the bill.

Casten’s bill was sent to the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee last week. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.

Frankel faces conservative media figure Laura Loomer, who won the Republican primary last month, in November. Veteran Charleston Malkemus is running with no party affiliation. Piotr Blass and Sylvia Caravetta are running in as write-in candidates.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

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